With the holiday season coming up here in New Mexico, it may be easy for your ex-spouse to get caught up in spending time with your child and fail to follow your custody orders. Although it may not seem like a big infraction to them, especially if it is just for a short amount of time over set visitation hours, violating custody agreements can have serious legal consequences. If your ex is violating your New Mexico Custody Agreement, you have options. 

What Everyone Ought to Know About Joint Custody 

The courts here in New Mexico find it is in the best interest of the child to have “joint custody” with both of their parents. Joint custody is when both parents have equal control over their child’s decisions and where they reside. Having equal control does not automatically mean that you have equal time with your child. The difference is between legal vs. physical custody. Equal time-sharing is possible but only through a judge’s decision. If you are unhappy with the decision, you can talk with your spouse about changing it instead of violating the court’s order. 

What Constitutes a Violated Joint Custody Agreement?

  • Failing to follow the visitation schedule, either by: staying with the child past set visitation hours or failing to bring the child to the agreed-upon location and/or at the agreed-upon time

  • Failing to notify, and receive permission, from the court before changing visitation schedules.

  • Failing to follow a court-approved visitation order in any way without first filing a petition with the court to alter the rules of the visitation order

  • Trying to spend time with or communicate with the child outside of the visitation hours set by the court order.

  • Denying a parent their visitation rights

What Should I Do If My Child’s Other Parent is Violating our Custody Agreement?

The first step after a custody order violation would be to communicate with your child’s other parent about the infraction if you feel comfortable. If they are not receptive and/or continue to violate the court-ordered custody agreement and you feel like your child is in immediate danger, you can file a police report. Police may be unwilling to get involved in a domestic situation if the child is not experiencing harm. If this is the case, contact your local district attorney’s office and speak to their child abduction unit. You may file a motion with the court to alter the current custody agreement or seek a penalty against the violating parent. Right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are ways that your child could not be safe with their other parent. Since the safety of the child is the court’s first priority, violators of visitation orders may be subject to criminal fines. The remaining option would be to file for your child’s parent to be held in contempt of court. This may result in penalties for the violator including fines, a decrease or elimination of parental rights, and -- in very severe cases -- even jail time.


If your ex is violating your New Mexico custody agreement, or you would like to modify the agreement, now is the time to talk to a local New Mexico attorney to see what can be done about your case and your children. Call our Albuquerque divorce and custody attorneys to set up a consultation today at (505) 317-4455. Our family law lawyers specialize in divorce, custody, guardianship, and alimony and can help you through your case this holiday season

Anthony Spratley
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Experienced Divorce, Child Custody, and Guardianship Lawyer Serving Albuquerque and Beyond